Airline 2 of 5 Barcodes

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Airline 2 of 5

The Airline 2 of 5 barcode is also known as the Standard 2 of 5 or International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2 of 5. It’s part of the larger Interleaved 2 of 5 framework that was originally developed in 1968. In 2 of 5 symbology, data is encoded using 5 spaces of fixed width and 5 bars that vary in size. 

This specification is called “interleaved” because digits are encoded in pairs — the first digit pair is encoded in spaces and the second in bars. The varying size of these bars give this barcode its name. Three of five are narrow and two of five are wide. Because of its paired nature, only an even number of digits can be recorded. If an odd number is required, a “0” may be encoded as the first digit or the last five spaces may be narrow.


Airline 2 of 5 barcodes contain several specific elements, including:

  • Leading Quiet Zones
  • Start Characters
  • Data Characters
  • Check Digits (Optional)
  • Stop Characters
  • Trailing Quiet Zones

This format makes it possible for barcode readers to easily identify the start and stop points of 2 of 5 barcodes, which is essential for large-volume airline applications. 

Airline 2 of 5 codes support numeric digits 0 through 9 and can include an optional check digit that uses the modulo 10 algorithm. There are also specific size limits on the height and width of both bars and quiet zones in Airline 2 of 5 codes to ensure accurate results when read. Given the interleaved nature of data encoding, this barcode can be made smaller than similar codes containing the same number of digits, and the ability to increase bar width means they’re easier to read than their non-interleaved counterparts, making them an ideal choice for high-volume airline applications.

Common Use Cases

The Airline 2 of 5 framework is most commonly used by the IATA to process airline cargo. Data encoded in IATA 2 of 5 frameworks can help identify cargo origin, destination, and other key characteristics to facilitate both the on-boarding and offloading of baggage.

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